Jimmy Lake made a promise.
And it didn’t take long for UW’s first-year coach to cash in.
Facing fourth-and-one from its own 31-yard line on its opening drive on Saturday, UW faked a punt and instead snapped the ball directly to redshirt-sophomore linebacker Jackson Sirmon — who plowed forward for 4 yards and a Huskies first down. Three plays later, quarterback Dylan Morris found sophomore wide receiver Puka Nacua across the middle for a 65-yard score.
Washington never looked back in a 44-27 victory over Arizona.
“We said way back in December, in 2019, that we were going to be aggressive and we were going to attack in all three phases — offense, defense, special teams,” Lake said, when asked to explain why he opted for the nontraditional fake punt. “Hopefully you guys saw that in game one and definitely in game two. You’re going to continue to see it moving forward.”
Defensive backs get back to work
The game ended at 8:41 p.m.
And, exactly 15 minutes later, three Huskies defensive backs — Asa Turner, Kamren Fabiculanan and Julius Irvin — reemerged out of the tunnel. For roughly 20 minutes, they ran through individual drills in an otherwise empty stadium.
In retrospect, their motivation was obvious. In the first three quarters Saturday, UW allowed a grand total of zero points, 66 yards, 50 passing yards and 2.8 yards per pass attempt. The Wildcats went a woeful 0 for 9 on third down.
But in the fourth quarter, after UW went to its defensive backups, Arizona torched the Huskies for four touchdowns, 265 total yards, 209 passing yards and 15 completions. It was an ugly end to an otherwise dominant defensive display.
So it makes sense why Turner, Fabiculanan and Irvin didn’t want to wait to get in some extra work.
“That says a lot,” Lake said. “I see those guys out my office window all the time, too, doing extra stuff. That just speaks to their work ethic, to their commitment to this program. We’re all about being bricklayers around here and blue-collar, hard workers. That does not surprise me one bit that they were out there trying to get some extra work in.”
Apple Cup update
Though Washington State was forced to cancel this weekend’s game against Stanford because of COVID-19 concerns within its program, Lake said Saturday his team is still preparing to play the Apple Cup on Friday as scheduled.
“I haven’t heard anything different about our game,” Lake said. “What I know right now is we are playing on Friday. So as soon as we get done celebrating here tonight, our prep has already started because we’re on a short week for the Apple Cup. We want to make sure the Apple Cup stays here in Seattle. So first thing in the morning, all sights, all focus is on the Apple Cup. We’ll be here early in the morning as a coaching staff and then get the players in here.”
On Friday, WSU stated that it could not meet the minimum 53-player scholarship threshold to participate against Stanford this weekend. Cougar athletic director Pat Chun told local media he expects to have a better idea of the team’s availability for the Apple Cup on Sunday.
Outside linebackers impress
UW outside linebackers Zion Tupuola-Fetui and Ryan Bowman combined for six tackles, three sacks and a pass breakup in three quarters of work Saturday. A 6-3, 280-pound redshirt sophomore, Tupuola-Fetui nabbed two sacks for the second consecutive week.
And Bowman — a 6-0, 280-pound senior — credited the duo’s chemistry for helping the Huskies to create pressure.
“We’re always working on that every practice — just communicating whether we want to work little games opposite each other to flush the quarterback a certain direction or things like that, maybe discussing different moves that we’re working on, what moves work, that type of thing,” he said. “So we’re always communicating and we’re always having great chemistry.”
It’s also possible their output could have been even better. In the second half, Bowman used a dizzying inside spin move to scoot past Arizona’s right tackle but couldn’t bring down quarterback Grant Gunnell.
“The spin move, yeah, I like to think that’s a guaranteed win for me,” Bowman said with a grin. “I just got ricocheted off the quarterback there, but next time that’s not going to happen.”
- After he hauled in seven catches on eight targets for 100 yards and a touchdown, junior tight end Cade Otton was awarded a game ball. “Wait until you see the film of him blocking tonight. It was impressive,” Lake said. “He was just mashing guys all over the field, opening up lanes for our running backs. Then of course the highlight plays are the catches that he had and the yards he had and the touchdown. He’s a big-time tight end. He’s a big-time football player. So pleased with him.”